Smash and grab burglar targets Asian restaurants - FOX 13 News

Smash and grab burglar targets Asian restaurants

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

UPDATE: The Tampa Police Department says a 6th restaurant was also targeted. They say the suspect also burglarized the Lemon Grass Kitchen on August 19th.

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The thief was caught on camera as he smashed out the front door at a sushi restaurant on Dale Mabry in Tampa, and police said his crime spree didn't stop there.

A total of five Asian restaurants in Tampa were burglarized early Saturday morning less than three hours apart. And all five of the burglaries were at restaurants along Dale Mabry.

Two of the places hit are side by side and in almost every case, the burglar used a big rock and hurled it through the front doors.  But only at one restaurant, the J & H Asian Cafe, was there no telltale rock, only a large hole left in a wall.

The burglary spree started around 12:30 on north Dale Mabry at the Crazy Buffet.

"It was a really big rock," said manager Evelyn Sim. 

The suspect threw the large stone chunk right through the front door.

"Grabbed the whole cash register," Sim said. "Knocked the terminal on the ground and took our register."

The staff left at 11:30 Friday night and was just up the road at a party for a co-worker when the phone rang.

"We have a really good security system. They alerted us immediately," said Sim.

"I'm surprised nobody out on the road saw anything either," said Sim incredulously, "because this is Dale Mabry, and the game just finished, you know?"

The burglar got less than $100 from the Crazy Buffet.  Oddly enough, they'd been broken into only a couple of months ago.

"And nothing was stolen," laughed Sim. "Except tequila!"

Down the street at Matoi Sushi it was actually their security cameras that caught the thief in action. 

You can see him hurl something through the front door, bust out the glass, crawl inside, and rummage through the register. He's in and out in seconds, but makes one, tragic mistake. He took his mask off before he escaped the camera's view.

On south Dale Mabry, he headed for three more heists: First at the New China Restaurant  at the corner of Dale Mabry and Gandy and down the street to the J & H Asian Cafe.

"And then they break out here," said one of the owners Jynne Lin, as she pointed to a huge hole in the wall. "I don't know what they use."

Lin is one half of the brother-sister owned restaurant. The thief didn't steal their register.

"And then take whole drawer out, everything," said Lin. "Then take all the money out."

They're out about $200.

"They put all the ink on the top, all black, so no fingerprints," said Lin, so there was no trace of anything.

Right next door at the Thailand Restaurant one of their front doors is boarded-up with the shattered glass still intact. Not far away from there is another big rock.

"The police say he, at least two or three times, he throw through the door," said Amnuay Thambundit, who owns and runs the restaurant.

About $500 is gone. They have a new register now because the thief yanked their old one out so hard and fast he ripped the cord right out of the side.  It was still plugged in.

"They took the cash register only, yanked it right off the cord," said Thambundit.

If you think you know who that person is in the security video, taking off their bandana in the last few seconds, call Tampa police.

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